"So what's it like to live in Stockholm?"

Having just returned from our summer trip to the UK, the first question that most of our friends asked was “so what’s it like to live in Stockholm?” Well after nearly a year of living and working here, I thought I would summarise my top 10 rules one must follow in order to survive in this wonderful city. Of course Swedes are very PC so I will caveat that this particular blog is a massive generalisation and just a bit of fun ;-)

1. Accept the fact the Swedish language is difficult to grasp...

Ok so to us Brits it does sound a bit ‘hurdy gurdy’ ;-) but apart from that some words are just plain confusing. Fart in Swedish means speed, bra means good, sex means six, slut means end, and prick means dot?!!!! And if you try to speak Swedish with even the slightest hint of an accent, you're going to get an answer in English. This makes it even harder to learn the lingo, but they do appreciate you trying. I once went into a bakery and asked for a sandwich without nuts (in Swedish)…much to the waitress’ horror – what I actually asked for was a sandwich without 'mutter' (not nötter), which is Swedish slang for vagina!!!! Well that was embarrassing…

2. Embrace the ‘Fika’ culture.

Fika is not just a ‘thing’ here in Sweden – it’s a religion! Simply explained it’s a word used to describe a coffee break usually with something sweet. Even the word ‘Fika’ makes a Swede all warm and fuzzy inside. NEVER turn down the offer of a coffee break. Frankly this is just an insult to the highest degree. Swedes are one of the world’s largest coffee consumers. It’s their answer to all the world’s problems, just as the Brits love tea, biscuits and a jolly good gossip. But you must NEVER just turn up to someone’s house uninvited for a coffee - spontaneity causes complete panic for a Swede.

3. Do not engage in small talk.

It’s a fact that Swedes just don’t do small talk. My (Swedish) wife explains “if you’ve got nothing important to say, then why say anything at all?” They are definitely reserved and can appear cold at first, but it’s their way of respecting your personal space. If you’re unfortunate enough to be met by your neighbour in the lift do not engage in conversation – a simple “hej hej!” is enough. Having said this, if you’ve really got to know a Swede, they are as warm as a Swedish sauna and will be your BFF for life.

4. Please use the wooden knife for butter.

Wooden butter knives…why? We have moved on now haven’t we? What’s wrong with good old stainless steel? It can even go in the dishwasher. The wooden ones are kind of cute I guess BUT aren’t splinters an issue? I’m not convinced on this one. While I’m at it DO NOT put lingonberry jam on your toast – this is for meatballs and pancakes ONLY...exclaims the wife!

5. Down tools during the summer.

It was like the fire alarm had gone off at work and I was the only one that didn’t hear it! Sweden literally shuts down for summer, and even some shops and restaurants close for business. It feels like after hibernating in the darkness during the long…long…winter months everyone appears from their homes like moths to a flame – all craving their Vitamin D to top up that tan. Swedes literally leave the country for guaranteed sun and don’t come back for a whole month!!

 

6. Act like a drunken sailor on your graduation.

At the beginning of summer I would see all these youngsters in (what looked like) sailors hats – touring the streets while hanging out of the back of a truck, and downing copious amounts of champagne. Just like being a Welsh teenager you might say ;-) The sound of laughter, screams and loud music echo through the city – a time of celebration it seems for completing their final year of secondary school. How very un-Swedish I thought…god I’m old!

7. Respect the dress code.

The colour of your clothing depends on the time of year and must be obeyed at all times. In winter please wear all black. In summer please wear white. Do not wear too much colour as it will draw too much unwanted attention to yourself – unless you are a man then you can wear bright coloured trousers. Having said this they are very stylish bunch. White ‘All Stars’ are a staple for any wardrobe. Oh and did I mention no towels to be worn in public saunas – I have been scolded by the older generation­ on a few occasions and told it’s unhygienic for one to cover up. Please…I’m British – we don’t do public nudity unless we’re drunk.

8. Embrace the ‘Latte Daddy’ culture.

When I first moved here it felt like I saw more men with prams than women. There must be a lot of gay dads I thought – it is a very liberal city after all. But no – it’s a familiar sight in Sweden since shared parent leave was introduced in 1974. They are up there when it comes to gender equality, and the men definitely pull their weight in staying home to raise their kids. Apparently we’re entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave, and this can be shared between parents. Who’s the daddy now?!!!

9. No shoes please!

The Swedish are not just very environmentally friendly, they are also super clean and very house proud. Expect to be offered the grand tour of your host’s home if you’re invited for the first time. Shoe removal is key to making a good impression in Sweden – it is considered a crime if you go against this. Even at the gym NEVER wear your ‘outdoor’ trainers inside and if you do, please wear blue bags over your feet before entering?!! 

10. Learn to squeeze your food out of a toothpaste tube.

No lie. They even have fish eggs in a tube – yuk! Eaten by almost every Swede I know…for breakfast…yes for breakfast…on hard bread that will break your teeth. Don’t get me started on the hard bread. Have you ever tried to put butter one of those bloody things? It’s an impossible task!

One year on and we can safely say we’ve survived our relocation from the UK to Sweden – albeit with some embarrassing mistakes along the way. Love Mondays is going from strength to strength and we’re looking forward to some exciting projects on the horizon! Do get in touch if you’re keen to work with our great network of talent - dale@lovemondaysbranding.com.

 

Hansel and Gretel - eat your heart out!

The season of Advent is upon us. In Sweden, Advent is holy, not just because it represents a religious tradition, but more practically it celebrates and honours light. Every Sunday through Christmas a new candle is lit, until the four long candles in the Advent candlestick are burning in unison. Throughout the month of December, windows blaze with the traditional triangle shaped candelabra, bringing a hue of gold to the otherwise dark and long winter nights.

Just as candles are an integral part of celebrating Advent, so are pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) and pepparkakshus (gingerbread houses). Gingerbread is the staple of Swedish Advent coffee gatherings and celebrations and the must-have baked good of the season. It’s fair to say the Swedes are obsessed with it - my wife (and her side of the family) are no exception. Our cupboards are already full to the brim with homemade delights. God help my waistline!

On 1 December the annual exhibition of gingerbread houses opened it's doors at ArkDes, the architecture and design centre in Stockholm. ArkDes is located on the “museum island” of Skeppsholmen, next to the Moderna Museet.

This year's theme is secrets. All bakers are invited to use gingerbread to express their innermost secrets. The freedom to interpret the theme as usual is unlimited. According to the competition rules, the housing bottom plate not exceed 50x50 cm. The pastry may not go beyond these dimensions in any part and shall contain only edible ingredients. The base plate does not have to be edible.

The contestants are divided into categories: 
• Architects, designers and bakers
• Up to 12 years
• All other baking

A jury will select two winners in each category. The jury evaluates the entries based on the criteria color and shape, edible quality, design and how the Board responded to the theme. Take a look at some of our favourites from this years entries...

The sheer amount of detail and craft that goes into these creations is incredible!..

Hansel and Gretel - eat your heart out!

This piece opens it's doors into the magical world of Narnia. 

When we saw this entry we were transported right back to St. Albans ;-)

The overall winner in our eyes was this awesome creation! We loved the curves, the level of detail in the icing and the amazing attention to detail. A truly magical and festive feel that really captured the essence of Swedish Advent!

 

Top 10 Swedish Brands

Love Mondays have now been in Stockholm for three weeks and we've been lucky enough to have found some great studio space with a local ad agency Satumma Family Business (SFB) who are the guys behind the Absolut Disco bottle (below). It has been a great start - winning our first local client already. We've experienced the importance of FIKA (the basic meaning "to have coffee", often accompanied with pastries or sandwiches), and even witnessed the most snowfall in Stockholm (in November) for over 100 years! Lucky us.

Sweden has some great and well recognised brands such as Ikea & H&M, but are there other brands out there that might not be as commonly associated with the land of the midnight sun? Below we've outlined our Top 10 Swedish Brands:

Absolut Vodka has become one of the most popular spirits brands in the world - most recognised for their series of collectable limited edition packaging. Six years since it's launch in the US in 1979, Absolut was the most imported vodka there and is currently the third largest producer of alcoholic spirits in the world. They have embraced innovative printing techniques and have built a strong following, with consumers waiting in anticipation for the next collectable bottle:

Björn Borg is a Swedish apparel fashion brand best known for their underwear embracing bold colours and prints. They also produce shoes, purses, glasses and perfume. Named after the former professional tennis player of the same name, the company was formerly named World Brand Management (WBM), and has stores in seven European countries. Sweden and the Netherlands being the most important ones, with new markets in Germany and the UK:

Design House Stockholm is a collective that brings together the brightest minds in Scandinavian design. A lot of these housewares are really quite affordable for beautiful design pieces. You can also find items at Horne and Vertigo Home. We love the playfulness and minimalism of their products.

Kopparberg Cider is made by Kopparberg Breweries in the town of Kopparberg in central Sweden. Established in 1882, the brewery is family owned and is the main employer for the tiny town of just 4,000 people. Kopparberg Breweries AB is Sweden's largest cider brewing company. Our favourite flavour has to be Elderflower and Lime...yum!

& Other Stories is a subsidiary of H&M and they engage a lot of local designers to create collections. But actually, one of their most recent collaboration was with Swedish songstress Lykke Li, which is super cool. The prices are a bit higher than H&M — you’re looking at stuff in the $50-$100 range but well worth it we think. 

Svedka is a Swedish brand of vodka, manufactured in Lidkoping, Sweden and owned by New York based Constellation Brands. The spirit is available in many flavours. It is probably best known in the US for the advertising campaign created by the New York-based agency Amalgamated, introduced in late 2005, with a futuristic "spokesbot" designed by Stan Winston. The ads make the claim that in the year 2033 Svedka will be the most popular vodka in the world.

Surprisingly enough, Svedka is not widely distributed in Sweden. It is not sold at Systembolaget, the government owned chain of liquor stores in Sweden which is the only retail store allowed to sell alcoholic beverages that contain more than 3.5% alcohol by volume.

Nudie Jeans humbly started in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest urban centre. Since day one the brand has utilised the same signature swirl-like pocket stitching, which has become a really strong brand equity. They combine this with unforgettably zany silhouettes like the Grim Tim and Steady Eddie. Here is what else you need to know: Nudie produces all products from 100% organic cotton, they run a number of Nudie jean repair shops across Europe, and the brand has played a pivotal role in raw denim resurgence.

Spotify is a legally sharing and streaming copyrighted music online remains a hotly debated issue. The company has been able to bridge that gap by providing online music streaming services as a legal alternative to pirated music file-sharing sites. Started in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify allows users to freely listen to, stream and share millions of music tracks to their computers and mobile devices such as smartphones. With its Facebook integration, users can also see and listen to what their friends are currently playing as well. We listen to it everyday here - it rocks! (or Pops).

Cheap Mondays was initially founded as a second-hand clothing store on the outskirts of Stockholm by partners Örjan Andersson and Adam Friberg. In the brand’s early days, the shop was run under the name “Weekday,” whereas the brand name was later shifted to”Cheap Monday,” derived from the fact that the shop’s opening hours were limited only to Sunday. The distinctive, monochromatic skull logo has become the brand’s most identifiable trademark, and is commonly used throughout the brand’s catalog of jeans, flannels and shirts. In 2002, H&M purchased 60% of the company for $92 million USD.

Fjällräven (Swedish for Arctic Fox ) is a Swedish company specialising in outdoor equipment - mostly clothing and rucksacks. Fjällräven was founded in 1960 by Ake Nordin. The original product was an external framerucksack. The Fjällräven rucksack proved comfortable, durable, and, along with outdoor clothing made from tent fabric, it made the brand well known in just a decade. The company has a strong market presence in the Nordic countries. It is also represented in other European countries, especially Germany. Among its more well-known products are Greenland jackets and various versions of the Kånken rucksack. We love the vast colour palette of their products, and the branding is pretty unique with a retro twist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welsh and proud!

Most people who meet our Creative Director (Dale Evans) for the first time detect a slight accent. They are usually surprised when he tells them he’s from a small town in the heart of the Welsh Valleys. Wales itself obviously boasts some stunning scenery, friendly locals and a penchant for a welsh rarebit or two ;-) But are there any popular brands that can truly say they are Welsh? We must admit it was a tough one for us – but here’s our top 10 brands that we think are Welsh and proud...

HOWIES is a small ethical active clothing company based in West Wales. They make men’s and women’s clothing mainly for outdoor sports. Howies are known for their great quality – producing clothes made from organic cotton that last longer and are overall better for the environment. We love how they explore the world of sustainability such as taking 13 discarded wardrobes and giving them to artists to use as a blank canvas to illustrate an individual Howies’ philosophy. Also paper bags originally used for tulips were re-appropriated for t-shirt packaging. 

PENDERYN WHISKY. From their own water supply from the Brecon Beacons to the barrels made of wood from sustainable American white oak forests, through to the bottling line at the distillery – Penderyn has an uncompromising commitment to quality. It is recognised worldwide as one of the finest malt whiskies. Distilling in Wales was a lost art, but in the late 1990s in a pub in a small post-industrial Welsh valley town, a group of friends drank and dreamt of creating a whisky as pure and precious as Welsh gold, represented today by Penderyn’s ‘gold seam’. Penderyn Whisky was launched on St David’s Day 2004 in the presence of HRH Prince Charles. We love the elegant and minimalist feel of the design, and the secondary packaging really heroes the golden liquid inside the bottle.

JOJO MAMAN BEBE. Despite it’s name JoJo Maman Bebe is Welsh company founded by Laura Tenison in Pontypool in 1993 and since grown to become the UK's largest independent mother and baby brand - employing over 700 people in the UK. They have 70 stores across the UK and Ireland, which is a great success story considering it all started in 1993 from a tiny shared office with the stock stored in a disused carpenter’s workshop at the Laura’s parents’ place in Pontypool, South Wales. She has never lost sight of putting people and the planet above profit and offering great service and we love the gorgeous designs and great quality of their clothing.

RACHEL’S is an organic dairy products company based in Aberystwyth, Wales. Founded by local farmers but now a subsidiary, it was the UK's first certified organic dairy. The company was born out of the need for farming diversification. When heavy snow hit Aberystwyth in 1982, preventing milk tankers from reaching the isolated farm, the Rowlands were forced to find other uses for their milk. Using an old butter churn, they made cream and butter by hand. After the snow cleared, the Rowlands discovered they had inadvertently created a market for their dairy goods and they were spurred on to extend their range of products.

HUIT DENIM. Cardigan is a small town of 4,000 people in West Wales. 400 of them used to make jeans. They made 35,000 pairs a week for three decades – that is until one day the factory closed. But all that skill and knowhow remained without any way of showing the world what they could do. That’s when David and Clare Hieatt decided to step in and create Huit Denim. The small but highly skilled workforce now makes high-end jeans, costing up to £230 for a pair of selvedge denim. Their customers include Arctic Monkeys, Jeremy Paxman, Ant and Dec, Fatboy Slim and the Manic Street Preachers. The couple explain “that’s why we have started The Hiut Denim Company. To bring manufacturing back home. To use all that skill on our doorstep. And to breathe new life into our town. So yes, our town is going to make jeans again.” What a great story!

SUB ZERO. Accoriding to Bluegg - the design agency that created the new branding, the Welsh ice cream maker needed to rebrand following a dispute over its trademark. It was decided that a whole new direction was needed, time had moved on, Mr Creemy hadn’t. They needed to attract a new, younger, more affluent audience, stand off the shelf amongst its competitors and assert itself as a major contender in the local ice cream isle. Now served in hundreds of outlets around South Wales and beyond, with its stylish black and white packaging and amazing range of flavours, the brand is almost as cool as the ice cream itself! Sub Zero can now be found in many major supermarkets.

TINY REBEL CO. These craft and home-brewed beers are making a splash in the beverage market. Started in a garage in 2008 by two lads in Newport, Tiny Rebel is the epitome of cool. They started off as a pair of self-confessed “beer geeks”, experimenting with hops and malt in a garage at the weekends. But since launching their micro-brewery, Bradley Cummings and Gareth Williams have been a Welsh business success story. For the branding the partners wanted Tiny Rebel to represent them and things that they were interested in growing up - Urban culture, 90's music, being a bit rebellious and not taking ourselves too seriously. So they created a ruffed up bear armed with a spray can who was ready to take on the world.

TY NANT. In the small hamlet of Bethania, West Wales on the edge of the Cambrian Mountains lies the celebrated spring of Tŷ Nant natural mineral water. Officially launched at London's Savoy hotel in 1989, Tŷ Nant natural mineral water took the bottled water market by storm. It has been named among the most stylish and desirable brands Wales has to offer, according to the Cool Brands annual consumer survey. While the main winners at the Cool Brands 2013 awards were taken up by huge international companies such as Apple and Rolex, it’s great to see that Ty Nant, based in Wales, was shortlisted in the drinks category. It’s distinctive blue bottles have become an object of desire in hotels and bars around the UK and beyond. 

HALEN MON is a brand of salt and seasoning ranges from Anglesey. Founded by a couple who after graduating from Bangor University, had fallen in love with the island of Anglesey, and started looking for ways that would allow them to continue to live and work in that area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 1997, the they left a saucepan of seawater to boil on the Aga in their family kitchen and as the salt crystals started to form - they knew they had struck culinary gold! The brand drums up pride of those from the area with scenic imagery on their website and headings such as ‘Taste the Landscape’. The navy & white logo is simple, and balances the traditional quality of the product with quirky illustrations and honest photography. 

BRAINS – Probably the most popular Welsh brand amongst Welsh people ;-) The Brains story began on St Mary’s street in a small brewery in 1882. The Founders Samual Arthur Brain and his uncle Joseph Benjamin Brain, combined their brewing experience and financial resources to brew the first pint of Brains beer. Brains is now renowned right throughout Wales and beyond – becoming a flagship for it’s country. It has become as much of Welsh culture as the daffodil, sheep or Sir Tom Jones – even sponsoring Wales’ favourite Welsh rugby team. Simply put – it’s not Wales without Brains. We love the way the dragons' tail has been incorporated into the beer pumps, and the packaging looks simple and contemporary. 

 

 

 

You’re never fully dressed without a smile.

This weekend we visited A Smile in the Mind exhibition by The Partners at The Gallery at Foyles, London. It is part of The London Design Festival and celebrates the launch of the updated book on ‘witty thinking’ in graphic design by Greg Quinton and Nick Asburyon. First published in 1996, A Smile in the Mind was originally written by Beryl Mcalhone and the Partners co-founder David Stuart and became my bible at design college. It made me think back to what inspired me to become a branding designer. Here’s a few examples of agency work that stuck in my mind back in the late nineties...

I remember the guys from multi-award winning Williams Murray Hamm (WMH) came to present an inspiration talk where I studied at Somerset College of Arts and Technology (SCAT) back in 1998. The breath of ideas they spoke of and the simplicity of their work has stuck with me to this day. This pack for Superdrug contact lens solution speaks for itself. Clever, witty and simple. Just brilliant!

WMH’s designs for Hovis bread was also ground breaking within the bread category’s ‘sea of sameness’. They managed to restored the brand’s relevance to peoples’ everyday lives through their strategy of ‘everyday honest food’ that British people love. Their solution was to wrap each loaf in the things we most love to eat on bread.

These contrasting packs by Brandhouse also found their way to my ‘scrapbook’. The Heals range of bath products were both simple and stylish and the fish added that element of wit. They also designed the original black packs for the iconic soft drink brand, Tango. At the time I remember black was a bold move for the category but it definitely commanded attention and were a welcomed distraction from the ‘you’ve been tangoed’ ads of the late nineties.

Lewis Moberly are known for their elegant simplicity, and are the only company to hold both the top award for Design Excellence and the top award for Design Effectiveness. Their packaging for Boots were always featured in design annuals (before blogs were popular). Simplicity is key to everything that we do at Love Mondays and Lewis Moberly was certainly part of what inspired that.

Brand identity is key to creating a successful brand. There were numerous logos featured in the original A Smile in the Mind book, and here’s a couple that I remember stood out. The FedEx logo is a masterpiece of modernist design by Landor Associates. It is unapologetically clean and bold and the arrow, formed in the negative space between the 'E' and the 'x', is a brilliant graphic device and a clever piece of subliminal advertising. Mother & Child was designed for a magazine that has never been published. Originally created by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase in 1965, it has definitely stood the test of time in creating witty thinking. 

Why not take a look at the new A Smile in the Mind book - it will definitely serve as a great source of inspiration and as Annie once said ‘you’re never fully dressed without a smile’ ;-)

 

When does craft become art?

Last week we visited EMBODIED – an exhibition at the Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in Stockholm - try pronouncing that after a few drinks! It celebrates the theme of the body in contemporary crafts. With a sound understanding of materials and techniques, the work created is meant to tear down the boundary between craft and art. There were some 'interesting' pieces...

This instillation was entitled THOSE WHO AFFECT ME by Malin Bobeck. It invited us to enter into a dark room paved with mirrors. Above was an interactive fabric which reacted to touch. Made from woven optic fibres and electrically conductive yarn that achieves a shiny surface. Apparently the work talks about the artists’ physical and emotional sense. Install some speakers and a lit dance floor and it would have definitely won me over!

The next instillation was entitled MOTHER AND FATHER (WE ARE WAITING TIL IT HAS PASSED) by Christian-Pontus Andersson. This was the most eerie piece as it looked so realistic. I watched Chuckie when I was young - there was no way I was hanging around! The wigs are made from real hair and the figures look like enlarged dolls made from hand painted porcelain. The artist explains how shifting death to a different time and place makes it easier to deal with, and the 18th Century aesthetic really appeals to him??? Awesome craftsmanship!

These pieces entitled HIDE and WATCHER by Matilda Kastel take feminist strategies as it’s starting point and are based on the artists’ experience of being objectified as a woman. HIDE was an opportunity for her to climb out of her own skin and to see it from the outside. Adding shards of glass to her work adds a contradiction to the fragility and beauty of the silicone. A great way to stop people from touching her work too I bet....I see you Matilda!

TO THE VERY SKIN by Marit Runsten is a textile sculpture made up of all the garments that the artist has worn during a normal day. They are cut into pieces and compressed and reworked into a full size skeleton. It was like looking in the mirror ;-) The garments normally represent an exterior layer have now been shifted inwards – thus becoming a supportive structure.

SURGICAL ORNAMENTATION also by Marit Runsten expresses the imagination of the brain. These works become a still life of the anatomy of thinking. We dominate our own bodies and the artist wants to rebuild it beyond its normal surface – fusing parts into surgical ornamentation and sculptural representations. I don't care what it represents - it looks cool!

An art exhibition would not be art without some penis reference now would it! FLOJTER (FLUITS), by Per B Sundberg didn't disappoint. He explains his focus is constantly changing. These 'figurations' humanly express a track he enjoys going down apparently...ok then. "Many porcelain objects have become so commonplace that one hardly notices the expression anymore. I try to see them. Some figurines are partially modeled while others I have sculpted entirely myself, for example sexual organs, dicks". Who are we to judge? ;-)

London Design Biennale 2016

Yesterday we visited the first London Design Biennale with over 30 countries from six continents presenting newly commissioned works that explore the theme Utopia by Design - a nod towards the 500th anniversary of Thomas More's text.

In all honesty we felt there was some great thinking behind some of the pieces that are being presented but you have to wade through some pretty 'challenging' stuff to get those moments of delight among the chaos.

One of our favourites is the 'Wish Tree' from Turkey. This contemporary and interactive piece asks you to put a wish inside a capsule and watch it whizz around transparent pneumatic tubes, that flow along the West Wing of Somerset House. It represents the profound hope embodied by mass migration.  

The Japanese contribution was probably the most dreamlike entry, representing the surreal work of Yasuhiro Suzuki. Glass spoons that measure time, a compass in the shape of a Japanese archipelago and a glass gun-shaped eye dropper was created because "your hand shakes in hesitation applying eyedrops, like when you point a gun at yourself". Suzuki says he wants you leave leave this exhibition with a different view on everyday objects.

South Africa celebrates liberation and playfulness as fitting statements of a country reborn from a convoluted, visceral history. Porky Hefer has designed a series of hanging nests in the form of animals, into which you can climb and dream of owning one of these stunning pieces. A representation of stunning craft which evokes that smile in the mind.

A favourite with our daughter was the Spanish exhibit, which included an immersive 360-degree virtual reality film. It imagines how medium-sized towns of the future could harness new technology to improve a sustainable future. Frankly she was more impressed with the 'funny mirror' that multiplied the image of mama and papa ;-)

Overall the exhibition was a little jumbled in terms of format but it definitley had it's highlights. Somerset House is an impressive backdrop in itself and definitely worth a visit for the stunning architecture. We can't wait to return at Christmas for London's favourite outdoor ice rink ;-)

Why I love Mondays...

 

Just over a year ago, I was dragging my feet to my agency job. Mondays were the worst, when only fantasies about quitting and breaking free from the pointless meetings, late finishes and unhappy co-workers got me through the day.

It was not long after that that, despite being a husband and a new Dad, I realised I could no longer do that weekly trudge.

In August 2015, I registered my own design agency Love Mondays and went back to loving the start of the work week. Mondays came to mean taking back control and waking up feeling positive and passionate again. One year on, we’ve seen some great successes, and possibly a landfill worth of dirty diapers. We’ve also survived a relocation from Singapore to the UK, and I’ve learnt a couple of lessons I think are worth sharing:

1. Can, lah

Many people (including me) questioned making the leap. In true Singapore-style, they said, “Cannot, lah”. If nothing else, it only made me even more determined to make it work. If you believe strongly enough that the market benefits from what you bring to the table, just go for it.

2. Have your A-list handy

A Creative Director is only as good as the team he fields. Stay connected to the best illustrators, typographers, Photoshop masters and nimble wordsmiths. With so much independent talent out there, small agencies are nimble enough to knock out the competition with dream teams. BOOM!

3. Don’t do it for the money

Taking the entrepreneurial leap is a quick way to get poor - there are more start-up costs than most realise, and it takes a while to turn a profit. Put away a few months’ worth of wages and be prepared to live lean. Remind yourself why you did this. I want to Love Mondays (repeat, repeat, repeat).

 4. Work out what sets you apart

Love Mondays is not your “normal” agency. The combination of a strong network and technology means I can curate dream teams of creatives from around the globe. Our clients don’t pay for a fancy office, only for the perfect team.

5. Show respect

Treat both colleagues and clients with the respect they deserve. Over-deliver on both design and client management BUT set realistic deadlines and push back - that way, you can manage and meet client expectations, and your creatives respect you.

6. You can’t do it all

I was sure I was going to be the greatest multi-tasker that ever lived. I was wrong. There is a best person for every job, and the best person to handle accounts and invoicing was not me. I hired a professional accountant and client manager, and it freed up my time to focus on what I love.

 7. Take time out

You might be the boss, but get out and leave the office for lunch – take two hours if you need (pretend it’s the 80’s). You need a clear head to run a business. Make a list of priorities (even if only for the satisfaction of crossing something off) and end the workday on time - you work to live.

 8. No free work

You’re poor enough without giving anything away for free (even if it’s just to get a foot in the door). Both free pitching and unpaid work are bad for the industry - and your credibility. Believe that you are worth every penny.

 9. Don’t micro manage

Working with the best means I can trust my team. I give them the space and time to work, and more often than not, they return the favour with quality work. We all make mistakes – and learn from them to grow.

10. Learning mode: on

The entrepreneurial learning curve is not steep – it’s near vertical. Whether it’s IT challenges or dealing with difficult clients, there is always stuff you never knew you never knew. But more than anything, that’s what makes me Love Mondays.

Here’s to everyone that has helped us so far. Thank you.

To another great year ahead!

Dale Evans, Founder & Creative Director - Love Mondays (Branding).